The Crickets - Rock Me My Baby
Final track from The “Chirping” Crickets (1957)
I wasn’t around, but it definitely seems like the dawn of rock’n’roll was represented more in singles than in full LPs— Elvis’s Sun singles, Chess 45s, one-hit jukebox tunes, and so on. But The “Chirping” Crickets stands as arguably the most essential non-compilation LP of early rock’n’roll (although Elvis Presley and Here’s Little Richard are also big exceptions to that rule). That early Buddy Holly growl, that danger coming from this skinny, nerdy Texan, is jarring in its power. I mean here’s a guy who looks like the long-held stereotype of “poindexter,” but he sounded just as primal and lustful as “Heartbreak Hotel” Elvis in the verses of “Not Fade Away”. Also, The “Chirping” Crickets is a veritable hit parade: “Oh Boy!”, “Not Fade Away”, “Maybe Baby”, and “That’ll Be The Day” all fit in the album’s 30 minutes (and that’s not including “Lonesome Tears” and “It’s So Easy” on the remastered edition).
But when I thought about favorite album closers, the final two minutes of The “Chirping Crickets” were a gimme— “Rock Me My Baby” is basic, elemental rock’n’roll that’s a perfect bookend to the album. Keep in mind that this is before album closers had to live up to “Tomorrow Never Knows” or “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. On The “Chirping” Crickets, it just needed to be a good cool down from the energetic songs while also serving as a pick up from the teardrops ballads. It’s a golden age rock’n’roll plea for love and sex behind that (at the time) omnipresent euphemism “rock me.” Buddy’s guitar solo brings to mind those “Grand Ole Opry” country solos— simple, dynamic, and close to the melody— but the real highlight is the chorus: “Rock-a-lock-a-hickory-dickory-dock! / Rock-a-bye my baby! / Up and down, around the clock, / Well-uh rock-a-me my baby!” There’s a bare bones schoolyard elation to that chorus that’s perfect for The “Chirping” Crickets.
Of course with any joyous (or sad, or really any) Buddy Holly song, there’s that bittersweet moment where you think about how young he was when he passed. He had two years of recorded output and then he died. That’s just three albums and some singles. It’s easy to play “what if”— Chuck Klosterman does a nice job of that in Killing Yourself to Live— but sometimes, it’s just nice to soak up what we have. The “Chirping” Crickets is an amazing document of what the man was capable of, and there’s rarely been a more fun send-off to an album than “Rock Me My Baby”. Go ahead and give it a spin— it could be the most fun two minutes of your day.
— Evan Minsker
(Evan previously wrote for OWOB about Ty Segall)